View Full Version : Budget trip to Boston help..

01-20-2008, 11:25 PM
We're taking a budget vacation to Boston in April and need some suggestions on eating and hotels..

A little bit of info about us: 2 kids: 7 and 10, not adventurous eaters- mom and dad don't want to do McD's for 5 days straight. The hotel needs to be in a safe but CHEAP area- under $100 per night. Can't pay a ton for parking- that would blow the budget. I was thinking about the Braintree area.. Is the commute REALLY bad? I think we'll probably leave in the AM and maybe not return to the hotel til dinner or later. Planning on using the "T" a lot, no driving in the city.

We're doing the Museum of Science, Children's Museum, Freedom Trail, Museum of Fine Arts, USS Constitution and a day in Plymouth. The swan boats aren't running til after we leave so that's out and Duck tours are too pricey this time. Did I miss anything?

Thanks for any input!

01-20-2008, 11:28 PM
Braintree, Framingham (though you'd have to take the commuter rail in) wouldn't be TOO bad, Peabody/Lynn/Saugus is also a good option or Burlington.

As for stuff to do...check out the North End and grab a pastry from Mike's (to DIE for!) Oh and you can take a tour at Fenway for like $20 per adult and I think $10 per kid which is AWESOME if you like baseball!

I can't help much with local restaurants, we usually eat Legal Seafoods or Cheesecake Factory.

01-20-2008, 11:49 PM
Braintree commute will be a piece of cake -- hop on the Braintree red line and head right up. If you are going to be using the T a lot, believe there's a tourist pass you can buy good for a set amount of days. Also, Shaws, Stop & Shop, Big Y, etc. often has discount promotions on Museum/IMax/Aquarium tickets, typically just need to show your grocery card, so worth signing up for.

All sites you listed are good, as well as aquarium, Bunker Hill monument, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, MIT and Harvard, make way for ducklings statues at public gardens, Cheers Bar across from gardens (if you liked the TV show), and eating Legals clam chowder.

Food is very very expensive in Boston -- haven't been to Braintree mall in a few years, but they'll likely have family-fare.

Bella the Ball 360
01-21-2008, 08:14 AM
You might want to check out the Entertainment book. I know that they have some of what you are planning to visit on a buy one get one. They also have Boston by Foot bogo. There are some restaurants in Plymoth and I know some of the attractions there are also in the book.

Princess Steph
01-21-2008, 08:43 AM
Braintree and Quincy will be a great area. Dedham has some hotels, but will be harder to get to the T. Try Fanueil Hall, there is a food court type area that is really cool, lots of shops to go in and out of and often street performers (?weather permitting) to help entertain the kids. Plymouth is great, but check what is open, you are going off season. They do a Pirate cruise and lobster cruise that the kids love and it's very educational also. If you are heading North to Salem (witches and pirates) there is an indoor water park that everyone tells me is great called CoCo Keys. check it out.

01-21-2008, 09:05 AM
We go to Boston every year with the kiddies! Here are some ideas for possibly saving $!

Have you ever considered the Boston Go Card? Pay a set price, includes just about everything under the sun (including the Duck Tour you wanted!)


Also, you can purchase CitiPass too, which includes MANY of the attractions too:


Also, if you have a membership to a local musuem or zoo, check, as ours are reciprocal with the Museum of Science and the Childrens Museum.

SUPER BUDGET way to see the Childrens Musuem, on Friday nights they have the Target $1 admissions from 5 to 9 pm. We did this last summer and it was GREAT!


There are lots of cheap places to eat at Fanuel Marketplace (counterservice).

We eat breakfast in our hotel, so we eat one counterservice meal and one sit down meal a day, and FYI, lunch is usually a MUCH cheaper sit down meal at a lot of restaurants.


DO research! We pricelined our hotel last year and got the Back Bay Hilton for $62 a night, with taxes it was a bit more, but even with the parking ONSITE (which there was discounted cheaper across the street) it was around $100 a night). FYI- Ive paid much more for this hotel before and its pretty nice with an indoor pool!

I think thats all I can think of off the top of my head.... but Ive made our vacations there pretty darn cheap!

This year when we go back, we have 2 free hotel nights from the Dockers Promo, 2 free museums from the reciporcal passes, fanieul hall has tons of free entertainment with street performers (older DD and DH were choosen to participate last year!), the swan boats (they are open when we go, dirt cheap!), T passes (FYI- the 7 day unlimted is the cheapest - 15 pp over age 11)


and we might splurge for one or 2 other things.



01-21-2008, 12:19 PM
Can't go wrong with inexpensive meals here:


I've eaten at a few and haven't been disappointed.

01-21-2008, 12:20 PM
We usually drive into Cambridge and park and take the T into the city. We haven't ever stayed overnight, though. We like the Museum of Science, Faneuil Hall, and next time we're going to the Aquarium. You can pack a lunch for the MoS. Their food court is good but prices are a bit high, we thought. Faneuil Hall counterservice is good, but expect it to be priced higher than similar places near home. :)

01-21-2008, 12:36 PM
There are a fair amount of places to eat for reasonable in Boston if you don't mind counter service. Lots of little places for college students. Burritos, etc. The Upper Crust has really good pizza for reasonable price. If you don't mind doing lunch, definitely look at Fire+Ice. Lunch prices aren't bad, nor is their Sunday brunch. Kinda a make your own stir fry type place. Check their website for more info. Completely agree that you need to go to Mikes. Don't let the crowd scare you, they get people through real fast. (Try the cannoli's or tirimisu) Some places do offer early bird specials, so if you can convince the kids to eat early, that may help. PF Changs is reasonable, with americanized asian food like 3 blocks from Chinatown. Dick's last resort isn't too expensive, and the kids would probably enjoy it. The Cheesecake Factory has a huge menu for fairly cheap, but be prepared to wait a while during a rush as it's always full.

If it's not too cold, at least walk down Newbury Street and do some window shopping. Lots of fancy stores there, but also a lot of cheap restaurants in basements, esp the futher you get from the commons. Hit up Tealuxe on Newbury for tea if you like it, they have like 100 loose leaf varities.

I would recommend looking into a week t pass, at the minimum, get a charlie card and use it. A ride on the subway is 1.70 with a charlie card, but 2.00 with a regular ticket. A charlie card is a pre-paid value card good on most of the t stations.

Be forewarned that many of the historical sites will probably charge you admission even if they are part of the freedom trail. Example, Paul Reveres house is like 5 bucks per person to get in. Still definately worth seeing from the outside, but you may want to pass on actually visiting.

Hope this helps.

01-21-2008, 01:38 PM
Where in Braintree are you planning to stay? While most of Braintree is ok, I wouldn't stay at the Motel 6 there. It is known as a hot bed for prostitution and drug handlings. If you're staying at the Sheraton, Hampton Inn, or Holiday Inn Express you'll be fine as those are all near the mall in a decent, safe area.

With that said, you will be near the mall if you need to eat there. Some good, affordable places in Boston that I know of:

Spike's Junkyard Dogs: www.spikesjunkyarddogs.com
This is one of our favorites. The hot dogs are the best in our opinion, and while we never tried them, the chicken sandwiches are also supposed to be very good! There is a location on Boylston St. near the Prudential Center.

McCormick & Schmicks - www.mccormickandschmicks.com
This is a very nice seafood place with locations near Park Plaza (theater district) and a location at Fannueil Hall. What a lot of people don't know is that if you go before 5 or 6 PM (not sure..but you can call and check) they offer "happy hour specials" where you can get a meal for $5 including a very delicious hamburger (way better than McDonalds!)

La Famiglia - www.lafamigliagiorgio.com
They are in the North End. Most pasta dishes are under $13 and the portions are HUGE, fresh, and tasty!

Hope that helps! Enjoy your vacation!

01-21-2008, 02:02 PM
we just did the USS Constitution and Museum in January. It was a rainy day so it wasn't crowded at all and there was no charge to get in (you can put money in if you want but it isn't required. I would stop by the visitor center and pick up the free junior ranger guide for Charlestown. My dd7 loved the museum. I live local so we just hop on the t to go into Boston. I do take a bus to the subway but it is a 10 minute bus ride to the subway. My dd3 and 7 both love the playground at Boston commons. If you have a local museum membership I second seeing what reciprical arrangements it has. We have a museum of science membership annd in the past a Childrens Museum and have gotten into museums for free in NYC when we visit grandpa and in NH when we visit nana/papa. Childrens Museum in Boston used to have a McDonalds connected to it but now it has Au Bon Pain which has reasonable priced kids meals.

There is an econolodge in Malden that is located on the busline to the subway which is closer than Saugus. I've never been inside it but the prices are cheap (no pool). Just a bit further is fourpoints Sheraton in Revere which has a decent hotel pool (been there for birthday parties) and within walking distance to Friendly's restaurant and close to varies fast food. Dockside is a family restaurant that is a quick drive from either one that offers traditional American food and a small game room with a pool table, airhockey table etc which could be nice after a day in Boston.

In Boston there is a bestwestern terrace inn that includes kitchen such as stove, fridge, microwave and is cheap for Boston standards. It is in the Brighton section of Boston but the green line is right across the street so probably 25 minutes to Museum of Science.

01-21-2008, 02:07 PM
Don't forget there are also tons of inexpensive chain restaurants in the area. Bugaboo Creek, Uno's, Pub 99, Fridays. I would recommend staying in Framingham/Natick if you have a car. You can just drive to a T stop and park your car cheap there all day. The Marriot courtyard is there and it's very nice. I often get it for 60.00 a night on Priceline. Check betterbidding.com to find out how to take an educated guess at what hotel your looking at. There is fun stuff in the Natick area too. Jordans has an awesome IMAX. There is the Natick mall if you want to gawk at the pricey stores like Versace, LV, Armani, etc. Lots of food choices too. Everything from Panera Bread (Yum!) to greek food (Aegean restaurant) to seafood (Naked Fish). Yum! I'm getting hungry. Good luck!!

01-21-2008, 03:20 PM
WOW! Lots of ideas, and a bunch of places to eat that I hadn't found yet!!
I've gotta go check out those restaurant sites- of course then I'll be hungry!! I found Mike's pastry shop and put it at the TOP of my list, I love a good cannoli! :lovestruc

How about ice cream? I have Herrell's and Burdick's on my list to look at online, is there anything that really stands out? (We have Friendly's here so that's not really one I'd want to hit)

I am planning on Priceline, now I have some more areas to try.. The cheaper that hotel is, the more I can spend on cannolis and ice cream! :rotfl:

Most of the stuff on our list is free/real cheap- Members at a couple of museums here. The t pass sounds like a great idea for us. Are kids under 11 free??

Thanks again for all the help!

01-21-2008, 04:03 PM
Will you be in Boston school vacation week? April 21-25, if so April 21 is the day of the Boston Marathon and hotel rooms will not be cheap anywhere, so start looking now and book early. There is a hotel right near the Braintree T, I have had family that stayed there (without kids), It's not the nicest looking from the outside and is right near the train and highway, so I'm not sure about the noise. There's also a very nice Sheraton with a pool in Braintree and a nice Marriott in Quincy, also a pool (thinking of the kids. There's a courtyard in either Stoughton or Randolph, but I'm not sure if they would provide transportation to the T or not.

I've not worked in Boston in a couple of year, but I would think the advantage of taking the T from Quincy vs. Braintree would be a cheaper T price. They used to charge double at Braintree and Quincy Adams, I don't know if this is still the situation.

There are SO many great restaurants in Boston, from chains, so things only in Boston. You NEED to hit the North End, Hanover Street, for Italian, my favorite is Giacamo's (sp).

If you have specific questions, please ask us Bostonian's and we'll be happy help.

01-21-2008, 04:08 PM
Kids under 11 are free on the t with a paying adult. They have to walk thru with you which will make sense when you are at the subway. My favorite ice cream is JP Licks which has a few locations such as Coolidge Corner in Brookline one on Newbury ST etc. It is homemade ice cream that tastes yummy. There is a new one at Mission Hill (don't recommend the location) which fortunately wasn't there when I lived there. The main one is in Jamaica Plain but I would stick to Boston, Brookline or Cambridge depending on where you go. I think Herrells used to be Steve's and it was just so so then.

01-21-2008, 04:14 PM
Not sure where you are from, but you could also consider getting a Membership to the Museum of Science. We found that it didn't cost much more than all our tickets for the day for 5 of us and we got the following:

Free Parking for the first 3 hours, tickets to the IMAX show and tickets to the Planetarium, discount for the restaurant area and gift shop. I also believe you can get discounted tickets to Duck Tours right at the museum. (Could be wrong on that though).

The nice thing about this membership is that it they reciprocate with free membership to other museums throughout the country. So you could always use it near you if you have a museum. You can check it out on MOS.org.

Also...you could stay at the Newton Marriott....very close to Boston and I believe there is a Tstop not too far. Much closer than Braintree.

Another place to check out is the Doubletree Guest Suites in Cambridge and the Marriott Copley which sometimes offers good rates.

Have a great trip!

01-21-2008, 04:17 PM
Forgot to mention that you may want to reconsider the Children's Museum. They did just re-do the whole thing and it's beautiful. But we took our 3 kids there last fall and we found that most of the things were for much younger kids...preschool set. My kids were 10, 8 and 6 and even my 6 year old was bored and we were through it in like 40 minutes.

Just wanted to let you know in case you are limited on what you want to pay for tickets.

01-21-2008, 08:27 PM
One more thing about the Children's Museum, they used to offer admission on Friday nights, starting at either 5 or 6;00 until close for $2.00 a person and it's plenty of time to see the museum.

01-21-2008, 08:40 PM
If you happen to be visiting someone here in Mass and they have a valid library card, you can get free or discount passes to lots of museums. I have checked out passes to the childrens museum, new england aquarium, MFA, and the museum of science. You just go in and check them out like a book. Each library carries different passes.


01-21-2008, 09:05 PM
Another cheapie idea that you might like is to take the MBTA Ferry ride from the wharf near the Aquarium to the USS Constitution in Charlestown. We love taking the boat trip thru Boston Harbor and usually don't even get off in Charlestown ...but take it roundtrip back to the wharf. I think it departs every 1/2 hr. so just ask when you get down to the pier , all the other sightseeing tour boat operaters are usually very helpful and can direct you where to wait. It's $2.00pr adult and free for kids. ! It's about a 10 minute ride thru Boston Harbor ...a beautiful sightseeing ride for not much money !!!:thumbsup2
Also, my dd11 enjoys Finagel a Bagel right across from the Boston Common for cheap,quick bagels and such !!! Get a seat near the window and "people watch" ! Enjoy:thumbsup2

03-17-2008, 10:35 AM
bumping for Theta

03-17-2008, 11:21 AM
If you happen to be visiting someone here in Mass and they have a valid library card, you can get free or discount passes to lots of museums. I have checked out passes to the childrens museum, new england aquarium, MFA, and the museum of science. You just go in and check them out like a book. Each library carries different passes.


Just so the OP keeps in mind that many of these passes will be reserved many weeks in advance for Spring vacation week, can only be picked up the day before and obviously, only by the library card holder.

I have lived in Boston for nearly 25 years and one of the first things I did when I moved here was to take the Jolly Trolley tour - did anyone on this thread or the other Boston thread suggest that?

03-17-2008, 12:45 PM
I have lived in Boston for nearly 25 years and one of the first things I did when I moved here was to take the Jolly Trolley tour - did anyone on this thread or the other Boston thread suggest that?

What's the Jolly Trolley tour?? I tried googling it but couldn't find anything..

03-17-2008, 12:53 PM
What's the Jolly Trolley tour?? I tried googling it but couldn't find anything..

It was a trolley that was part of the Old Town Trolley fleet, as I recall. See link below to the tour...